Juventus are the new Campioni d’Italia after a victory against Cagliari and Milan’s derby defeat mathematically secured the Scudetto!
The Bianconeri had to get back on track after throwing away a result on Wednesday night, Gigi Buffon’s howler handing 10-man Lecce a 1-1 draw, and there were several banners reassuring the goalkeeper. It reduced their lead at the top of the table to just one point, but a victory here and Milan failing to win the derby would mathematically secure the title.
Paolo De Ceglie was out with a thigh strain, though Simone Pepe returned from his injury. Cagliari played their last ‘home’ game of the season again at the Stadio Nereo Rocco in Trieste due to reconstruction work at the Sant’Elia. Alessandro Agostini sat out a ban, joined by Daniele Dessena, Rui Sampaio, Sebastian Eriksson and Moustafa El Kabir. They opted for an all-South American trio in attack.
There were only a handful of Cagliari fans in the stadium, as the vast majority were cheering on the Bianconeri. However, it was not full, as for this match Cagliari raised ticket prices to the range of €30-€150.
It took five minutes to break the deadlock in Trieste, as Mirko Vucinic sprung the offside trap on a Leonardo Bonucci long ball over the top and kept his cool to side-foot the angled drive past Michael Agazzi from six yards at the near post. It was an extremely tight decision.
Andrea Pirlo had an attempt from long range comfortably smothered by Agazzi, while Pepe cut in from the left and stung the goalkeeper’s palms at the near post with a fierce effort. Radja Nainggolan was booked for a scything tackle on Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Lichtsteiner was in the wars, as there was a horrific clash of heads with Mauricio Pinilla that left both struggling to stay conscious. The Swiss international looked to have suffered some whiplash in the incident and was stretchered off with a neckbrace, making way for Martin Caceres.
Pirlo curled a corner kick directly on to the near post, clattering the upright. Lorenzo Ariaudo charged down a Caceres cross with his arm, but it was from point-blank range, so could not be considered voluntary.
Nainggolan ran the risk of a second yellow card for hacking down Arturo Vidal, but was given a final warning.
Pinilla threatened for Cagliari with a sudden blockbuster from distance that skimmed the post and smashed a flag that was behind the goal.
Before the break Pepe flashed an angled drive across the face of goal and shaved a coat of paint off the base of the far post. Pepe also went close with a long run from his own half, but it was charged down.
It started raining heavily for the second half and Andrea Cossu came on, sparking a very dangerous counter and falling under the weight of Giorgio Chiellini, but the Cagliari man was booked for simulation instead. It was a dubious incident and one open to interpretation, as Chiellini did lean a little into the much shorter Cossu.
A weak Pepe effort was easily smothered and Cagliari threw on Joaquin Larrivey to bolster their attack, as Juventus were not causing them too many problems. Vucinic blasted over when he perhaps should’ve set up Emanuele Giaccherini in a stronger position.
In fact, Cossu went close with an angled drive that flashed across the face of goal.
Vucinic tried to wake Juventus up and his fierce curler was palmed out of the far top corner by Michael Agazzi. From that corner, Caceres had a glancing header just wide, anticipating teammate Marco Borriello.
It worked, as the Bianconeri did go 2-0 up thanks to a Michele Canini own goal. Caceres whipped a cross towards the penalty spot and in an attempt to anticipate Borriello, the defender accidentally looped it into his own net.